Ok, folks. I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a big, bold statement about bridesmaid’s dresses. In fact, not just a statement, I’m going to make a heartfelt plea: Brides, please don’t put your bridesmaids in strapless dresses! PLEASE!
“Why,” you may ask, “the heck not? What’s wrong with strapless dresses on my galz? What has a strapless bridesmaid’s dress ever done to you?”
Look, here’s the deal. If your bridesmaids are all built like the waifish examples in the photo above, and they have beautifully tailored, well-fitting dresses that they’re comfortable wearing and can move in without fear of any sort of wardrobe malfunction, then by all means, go ahead and stick your closest friends in what amounts to a very pretty fabric tube.
But the reality – one that I’ve witnessed over and over for years – is that most women in attendance do not look like these underfed, well-primped little babelets here. Most women look like…women! And most women have bodies which must be respected, and, more importantly, many of these women have sincerely bodacious bosoms which, in a strapless dress, are often barely contained, and frequently look like they’re about to leap clean out of the front of the frock and make a frantic break for freedom.
Conversely, if you have bridesmaids who are somewhat Breast Light, they have a tendency to act like there’s very little holding up their strapless dress, and that the garment might, at any moment, shimmy clean off their body and land in a pretty little glittery pool on the floor.
All this means that what I see, as maid after maid parades down the aisle, is a lot of twitching and fidgeting to make sure that the dress in question is still accurately in place, as well as a posture-busting epidemic of hunchy-shouldered Stances of Discomfort.
This is both a tough – and completely understandable – dilemma. Few ladies these days actually learn how to sport this kind of elegant frockery, and the lack of experience in really WEARING a dress often shows. But there’s no judgement here. Honestly, it’s not just the occasional bridesmaid who suffers.
Years ago, I was an actor in New York understudying at a theater that did all classical plays. The fun part about those kinds of shows is that the costumes are magnificent: corsets and petticoats and long trains and flouncy sleeves and highly elevated cleavage. But you have to know how to wear this kind of stuff so that it doesn’t look like it’s wearing you – or worse, that you just don’t belong in the 18th century.
One night, after we second-stringers did our one test runthrough of the current show, the artistic director asked me where I was trained, and how I knew how to carry myself like an Italian courtesan of yore. Apparently, he was getting a lot of young women coming through the door who would walk around like someone just randomly stuck them in their clothes without being able to carry the sartorial spirit of the age with them.
This is all to say that it’s not easy to carry off a really fancy dress under the best of circumstances. And if it’s a dress that isn’t selected specifically for your body type, then you’re basically up chiffon creek.
My recommendation? Pick your color and let your gals choose the style which suits them best. They’re more likely to enjoy the dress – and maybe even wear it again in the future! Honestly, it’s not going to ruin your photos to have one woman in an empire waist and another in spaghetti straps or halter style. You can even mix-and-match a bit. I promise, it’ll look fabulous!
Weddings are all about love, and loving your friends means not asking them to spend money on and wear something which doesn’t make them feel totally delish.